Dec. 12, 2017

We have sad news, Willie Taylor has passed away yesterday at his home, leaving his wife Dora. Willie Taylor was a 50+ years member of ATU Local 1512, beginning his career here in 1953.  After moving North from North Carolina to seek work, he settled in at Peter L. Picknelly’s bus garage as a bus washer/cleaner, part-time, to supplement his income from a full time factory job at Springfield Armory. Never one to shy from hard work, he eventually began driving the motor coaches. His career at Peter Pan spanned over six decades, either in maintenance or driving the busses. He is believed to be the first black motor coach operator driving an intercity/interstate bus. This was during the 1960’s when Peter Pan would be “rented” out to Greyhound during the Thanksgiving holiday. It was not unusual for a driver to begin his shift on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and be sent over 1,500 miles away from his home terminal for the weekend at Greyhound’s wishes as an “extra” bus. Willie found himself back in the segregated South and turned a few heads!

Willie was the best story-teller Peter Pan bus lines has ever had. If you had a few hours, Willie would tell the stories from the past: about the World’s Fair New York, about Peter L. Picknelly being a tough but fair boss, and his mom Mrs. Jennie Picknelly collecting the fare money and cleaning the headrest linens, and many other tales. He always recited these yarns with color and flair!

Funeral Services for Willie Taylor: Viewing/Wake is Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 1pm – 3pm at Sampson’s Funeral Home, 21 Tinkham Road, Springfield, Ma. (413)782-5226.  Funeral Home Funeral Service is Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 in the morning at 11 AM – followed by burial at Hillcrest Park Cemetery. Peter Pan will be providing a new 2018 J4500, newly wrapped, as transportation for employees who want transportation to the Sampsons Funeral Home.  Click for MassLive article with video, photos:

Pioneering black bus driver Willie Taylor dies at 87 years old